Louisiana Democrats are calling for an investigation into Gov. Bobby Jindal’s use of the Governor’s Office to take aim at Republican U.S. Sen. Rand Paul’s campaign for president.
In a statement released through the Governor’s Office on Wednesday morning, Jindal said Paul is “unsuited to be Commander-in-Chief” because Paul claimed on national television that Republicans are to blame for a rise in Islamic State militants.
State law prohibits the use of public resources to “urge any elector to vote for or against any candidate,” which the state Democratic Party is citing as it alleges the statement from the Governor’s Office amounts to “a flagrant abuse of power and violation of the law.”
Jindal’s office has denied any wrongdoing and defended its use of state staff and government letterhead to slam Paul’s suitability as president.
“Matters of national security are very important to Louisianians, and Louisiana is home to many American soldiers,” Jindal spokesman Mike Reed said in a statement. “The suggestion that the governor of Louisiana cannot or should not comment on matters of national security is without merit.”
Appearing on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” on Wednesday, Paul said, “ISIS exists and grew stronger because of the hawks in our party who gave arms indiscriminately, and most of these arms were snatched up by ISIS.”
“This is a perfect example of why Senator Paul is unsuited to be Commander-in-Chief. We have men and women in the military who are in the field trying to fight ISIS right now, and Senator Paul is taking the weakest, most liberal Democrat position,” Jindal said in his Wednesday morning statement on Paul, which also was posted to the Governor’s Office website. “(T)he next President’s job is to have the discipline and strength to wipe ISIS off the face of the earth. It has become impossible to imagine a President Paul defeating radical Islam and it’s time for the rest of us to say it.”
Stephen Handwerk, executive director for the Louisiana Democratic Party, said he’s calling for the state attorney general to investigate.
“The state constitution is crystal clear on this point: Jindal broke the law. And he hasn’t even officially started his campaign yet,” he said.
Louisiana Inspector General Stephen Street told The Advocate he couldn’t comment on the matter.
Paul’s campaign, meanwhile, leveled its own criticism at Jindal.
“It’s ironic Gov. Jindal would level such a charge when he flip-flops on crucial issues like Common Core and national security, and he has cratered his own state’s economy and budget,” Doug Stafford, Paul’s top political adviser, said in widely circulated statement. “Just last week, Gov. Jindal spoke out in support of Sen. Paul and announced he now opposes the NSA’s illegal and unnecessary domestic bulk data collection, after previously cheerleading for it.”
Timmy Teepell, a political adviser to Jindal, defended the governor’s remarks.
“What we’ve learned today is that Sen. Paul is to the left of President Obama and Hillary Clinton on foreign policy,” he said. “It is the kind of blame-America rhetoric we normally only hear from Hollywood celebrities and Al Jazeera commentators. Senator Paul is a one-term senator, with no executive experience, and we all know how that has worked out in the current administration.”